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Sjoberg v. Hawley

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 20, 2019

THOMAS SJOBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY HAWLEY AND SHERIFF McNEIL, Defendants.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. SUMMARY

         Plaintiff Thomas Sjoberg, proceeding pro se, sues Defendants Sheriff Alvin McNeil and Deputy Wayne Hawley for denying him reasonable accommodations for his disability. Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of United States Magistrate Judge William G. Cobb (ECF No. 42) recommending that the Court grant Defendants’ motion for summary judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 23 (motion); ECF No. 30 (addendum)). The Court has reviewed Plaintiffs objection (ECF Nos. 45 (objection), 48 (exhibit)) as well as Defendants’ response (ECF No. 46). For the following reasons, the Court declines to adopt the R&R and grants in part and denies in part Defendants’ Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

         Defendant Hawley made contact with Plaintiff at the Wal-Mart in Fernley, Nevada on May 6, 2015 as part of an investigation into potential criminal activity. (ECF No. 23-1 at 2.) Defendant Hawley asked Plaintiff to accompany him to the substation of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office for an interview, and Plaintiff agreed. (Id.) Plaintiff participated in a video-recorded interview. (Id; see also ECF No. 31-1.)

         Plaintiff “was born with cerebral palsy and hearing loss in both ears.” (ECF No. 5 at 3.) He wears two hearing aids, but both were broken at the time of his arrest. (Id.) At some points in the video-recorded interview, it seems that Plaintiff understood Defendant Hawley, while other times it seems he did not. For example, when Defendant Hawley suggested possible ways that medication could affect Plaintiff, Plaintiff did not appear to understand Defendant Hawley. Plaintiff offered a non-sequitur response and then said he was hard of hearing and was trying to understand what Defendant Hawley was saying. (ECF No. 31-1 at 18:12:35 to 18:13:20; ECF No. 37 at 6-7.)

         Defendant Hawley eventually read Plaintiff Miranda warnings and arrested him. (ECF No. 23-1 at 2.) Plaintiff was transported to the Lyon County Jail and released to jail staff for booking. (Id.)

         Plaintiff pleaded guilty to certain criminal charges but later filed a pre-sentence motion to withdraw his guilty pleas on the ground that his counsel was ineffective in failing to move to suppress statements Plaintiff made to Defendant Hawley. (See Id . at 10-11 .)[1]Plaintiff argued that he did not voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waive his rights because he has hearing difficulties and was not provided with a hearing device or interpreter to permit him to understand Defendant Hawley’s questions and the advisement of his Miranda rights. (Id. at 11.)

         The district court conducted an evidentiary hearing and concluded after reviewing the video-recorded interview that Plaintiff could hear and understand Defendant Hawley. (Id. at 12.) The Nevada Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the record supported the district court’s conclusion. (Id. at 13.)

         B. Report and Recommendation

         Judge Cobb considered Plaintiff’s claims in two ways. First, Judge Cobb considered Plaintiff’s claims as they related to his detention at the Lyon County Jail. Judge Cobb found that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment in that regard because Plaintiff did not identify what reasonable accommodation was necessary during his time at the Lyon County Jail. (ECF No. 42 at 7-8.) Second, Judge Cobb considered Plaintiffs claims as they related to the interview with Defendant Hawley. Judge Cobb found that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment in that regard because a reasonable accommodation during the interview was not necessary-the transcript and video showed that Plaintiff understood Defendant Hawley. (Id. at 9.)

         III. ...


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